Indian Whisky Brand Champions 2013

8th July, 2013 by SB Staff Writer

INDIAN WHISKY BRAND CHAMPION: IMPERIAL BLUE

indian whiskyImperial Blue is one of Pernod Ricard’s 18 key local spirits brands, and is its second biggest-selling whisky in India. Its official name is Seagram’s Imperial Blue – a reference to its previous owner.

By the time Seagram’s was sold to Pernod and Diageo in 2001, it had built a solid business with its Indian whiskies. In those days Scotch was effectively barred from India with import tariffs running at 750%. Today the figure stands at 150%.

In the carve-up of brands which followed the sale, Pernod acquired the entire Seagram’s India portfolio including Royal Stag which is now the country’s third most popular whisky with sales of 14m cases. Yet of all the brands, Imperial Blue has benefited the most from the Pernod acquisition, growing from half a million cases in 2000 to over a million by 2002.

Six years later it hit the headlines when some bottles in Andhra Pradesh were found to be under-strength. It was later discovered they had been sabotaged by disgruntled workers. The whisky is a blend of Indian grain spirit and malt whisky shipped from Scotland. Priced at a premium to brands like Officer’s Choice and Bagpiper, and with more contemporary packaging, it claims to be India’s number three deluxe whisky.

While spirits advertising has been banned in India except in cinemas, Imperial Blue has been adept at finding ways round the rules.The brand is a past master in surrogate advertising (also officially banned) using clothing, soft drinks and music CDs to promote the brand. This is common practice with Indian whiskies tending to focus on their tagline rather than the drink itself. For example the words ‘No.1 Spirit of Leadership’ are splashed across hoardings at all the country’s major cricket grounds. Everyone knows that it’s a reference to McDowell’s No.1 whisky.

Imperial Blue recently went one further, and in 2011 commissioned a full-length 90-minute film called ‘Men Will Be Men’ – the brand’s tagline. The movie was said to be “a slice of life story about four young adult males” – the target audience for the brand, and featured popular Indian TV stars.

Pernod’s success in India is not built on its Scotch brands like Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s, but on its Indian whiskies which have grown from one million cases in 2000 to over 25m today. Vijay Mallya’s giant United Spirits – the largest spirits company in the world – may sell five times as much whisky, but its margins are way lower. According to a recent report in The Economic Times of Indiaits average case price was Rs720 (£8.50) compared to Rs1,760 for Pernod Ricard.

Raising prices will be a key priority for Diageo as it assumes control of United Spirits, and it will be interesting to see whether volumes can be maintained at the same time. However, everything is bound to change if and when the wall of import tariffs comes down

 

INDIAN WHISKY
BRAND OWNER 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 % +/-
McDowell’s No.1 Reserve United Spirits 13.4 13.5 14.3 16.1 19.5 21%
Officer’s Choice A.B.D 6.7 11.1 11.6 16.5 18.1 10%
Royal Stag Pernod Ricard 6.8 8.4 10.4 12.5 14 12%
Bagpiper United Spirits 15.4 16.3 16.4 16 14 -13%
Old Tavern United Spirits 4.8 6.8 9 11 11.6 5%
Original Choice John Distilleries 8.8 10.2 10.9 10.7 10.9 2%
Imperial Blue Pernod Ricard 3.8 4.8 6.1 7.2 8.8 22%
Hayward’s Fine United Spirits 2.8 4.1 4.7 6.2 7.1 15%
8PM Radico Khaitan 3.2 3.6 3.9 4.3 4.9 14%
Director’s Special United Spirits 4 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.3 -4%
Blenders Pride Pernod Ricard 1.9 2.3 2.8 3.5 4 14%
Gold Riband United Spirits 1.8 2.7 2.3 3.1 3.5 13%
McDowell’s Green Label United Spirits  – 2 2.5 2.9 3.3 14%
Director’s Special Black United Spirits 1.8 2 2.9 2.9 2.9 0%
Signature Rare Aged Whisky United Spirits ₋– 1.1 1.3 1.6 1.8 13%
Royal Challenge United Spirits 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.4 1.7 21%
Men’s Club United Spirits  – 0.6 0.8 1.1 1.2 9%

 

SEE OTHER CATEGORIES
GIN LIQUEURS
SCOTCH WHISKY WORLD WHISKIES RUM
TEQUILA VODKA INDIAN WHISKY
SPECIALITIES

 

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

The Whisky Exchange's top spirits trends for 2017

Insights released by London-based spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange suggest more...

Scotch sets out 'challenging' environmental goals

The Scotch whisky industry has refreshed a set of “ambitious” environmental more...

Diageo 'confident' of growth in fiscal 2017

Diageo’s 2017 fiscal year has “started well”, giving the group more...

Royal Salute honours British Monarchy with 32yo

Pernod Ricard-owned Royal Salute has launched a 32-year-old blended whisky to more...

Chivas extends Scapa line with peated addition

Pernod Ricard-owned Chivas Brothers has expanded its single malt Scapa Scotch more...

Bardstown to 'reshape American whiskey market'

Bardstown Bourbon Company has started third-party production at its new US$25 more...

A Drink With... Matthieu de Lassus, GBH Spirit Division

Matthieu de Lassus, export director for Groupe Bernard Hayot Spirit Division more...

Top 10 TR launches since TFWA WE 2015

As the 2016 TFWA World Exhibition & Conference approaches, SB recounts some of more...

Scotch shipments finally return to growth

Global Scotch whisky volume exports have increased for the first time in three more...

'Glocal' approach leads vodka revival

As the vodka category tentatively recovers, big brands are increasingly looking more...

anCnoc bottles single cask for La Maison du Whisky

Highland single malt Scotch brand anCnoc is set to bottle its first single cask more...

Edrington announces Glasgow HQ location

The Macallan Scotch whisky maker Edrington has confirmed the new location of more...

Diageo ‘to cut jobs’ in productivity drive

The world’s largest spirits producer Diageo is reviewing staffing levels at more...

Scotch slips in travel retail brand standings

While Scotch whisky continues to dominate travel retail spirits, half of the more...

Dalmore to release new 35-year-old whisky

Whyte & Mackay is to release a 35-year-old variant of The Dalmore Scotch whisky more...

Whisky investment firm offers trading update

Whisky Invest Direct has seen its customers purchase enough liquid to make five more...

Heritage spirits drive cocktail revolution in France

A transformation is taking place in the French spirits market, as a burgeoning more...

Glenfiddich revamps Cask Collection for Cannes

Glenfiddich has redesigned its Cask Collection series – the brand's first more...

TWE Whisky Show returns for 2016

Touted as "the UK's biggest whisky festival", The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show more...

2015's biggest spirits brands in travel retail

2015 was a mixed year for spirits in the global travel retail channel, with more...